Andres Oppenheimer interviewed Thomas Shannon, and I was particularly struck by the following:
''The Russian thing needs to be understood more broadly,'' said Shannon, who is to visit Moscow this week. ``The presence of Russian warships has allowed some people, especially the Venezuelans, to try to project the Russian presence as aimed at the United States. But in a strategic sense, the Russian presence may really be an effort to match China's presence in the region.''
Analyses of the Russian presence in Latin America have not focused on China. I have to say that I am unconvinced. No doubt that Russia always keeps an eye on China, and is paying attention to China's growing ties to Latin American countries. However, I don't think we can understand the entire warship exercise without focusing squarely on Russia's desire to make a statement about U.S. policy. I see that more as Occam's Razor than as some Venezuelan "projection."